Dear Mr. Lekovic,
I am writing you concerning your letter that you sent to our Embassy (with no date and no reference number) and the unfounded claims regarding so-called "widespread attacks targeting journalists and media outlets".
I am very surprised to read your letter which does not mention any condemnation of the failed coup attempt in Turkey and raiding of media institutions by the coup plotters. Therefore I deem it necessary to present you herewith accurate and updated information regarding the failed coup attempt and the developments in its aftermath.
A faction of the Turkish Armed Forces attempted to stage a coup in various cities of Turkey on the evening of July 15th. It was witnessed that the perpetrators fired at their own people, betrayed their commanders, bombed the National Parliament and the Office of the Presidency, Chief of the General Staff Gen. Hulusi Akar was held hostage. Unfortunately, 246 of our citizens were killed and 1.536 wounded, including police officers and soldiers.
The terrorist coup plotters also raided major press/media establishments, both state and private ones, and forced these media organs to spread their illegal messages. They also attacked satellite control centers in order to cut TV broadcasting all around the country. Therefore, it is evident that independent press and media organizations were among the primary targets of the terrorists. However, their attempt to control the media did not last long and they faced a solid resistance especially from the private media organs. Under this critical environment, free and pluralistic Turkish media played a vital role in the prevention of the coup attempt as a deterrent force against the plotters.
Throughout the process, all the political parties and Members of the Turkish Grand National Assembly stood firmly by democracy, democratic institutions and the Constitution. A Joint Declaration on defense of democracy was issued during the extraordinary meeting of the General Assembly on the 16th of July and so many civil society organisations published declarations condemning the coup attempt.
Upon this attempted coup, the Turkish Government has initiated an investigation in order. to find who are behind that coup attempt and reached some clear evidence regarding FETO (Fethullah Gillen Terrorist Organisation). Although the coup attempt in question was led by the members of FETO within the armed forces, there is strong suspicion that other members of the organization within the state bureaucracy supported the attempt in one way or the other (For example; there are concrete findings that some civilians and former police officials who were previously dismissed because of their affiliation with the Gillen group actively participated in the coup attempt).
With this understanding, State of Emergency has been declared as of 21 July 2016. It is a measure regulated by the Turkish Constitution and relevant national legislation and also a practice permissible under international human rights law, including European Convention of Human Rights. You should also consider that, the State of Emergency, is not to restrict fundamental freedoms of our citizens, but to eliminate FETO terrorist organization in a more speedy and effective way.
As the Public Prosecutors are investigating these severe crimes committed by the coup plotters as well as those who are linked to FETO, a number of journalists are also being investigated as well. It should be noted that these investigations are limited to those who supported the FETO terrorist organization during or before the coup plot. If ruled guilty by the courts in due judicial process they would be convicted not because of their profession as journalist but because they used their profession in the service of committing crimes in respect of terrorist coup attempt and/or being linked to the FETO terrorist organization.
The validity of charges, if any, and the eventual sentences they would face, will be determined by the Turkish Courts. There should be no doubt that the process will be conducted as usual in full respect to fundamental rights and freedoms and the rule of law, as prescribed by law. All judicial remedies are available.
Since you mention in your letter on reporting "so-called press freedom violations on the Council of Europe Platform for the Protection of Journalism", I would like to inform you that Secretary General of Council of Europe Thorbjorn Jagland paid an official visit to Turkey on 3-4 August 2016 and met with Turkish President, Prime Minister, Foreign Minister, Minister of Justice, the Speaker of the Turkish Parliament and leaders of the opposition parties.
Secretary General Jagland underlined that in his statements there has been too little understanding in Europe about the challenges facing democracy and state institutions in Turkey after the outrageous coup attempt of 15 July. He also stated that he fully understands Turkey's needs to investigate and prosecute those people who were behind the coup attempt.
Finally, I would like to attach herewith a copy of a booklet prepared by Anadolu Agency titled "FETO's coup attempt in Turkey: A Timeline/15-20 July 2016" in order to give a more insightful information on the realities about the attempted coup.
I would appreciate it if you could take the above-mentioned information into consideration and, inform the respected members of your association accordingly. It would also be appreciated if you could publish this letter on your webpage.
On this occasion, I would like to state that the Embassy stands ready to reply to any request of additional information.